Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 13 February 1779 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 13 February 1779 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passy Feb. 13 1779

Yours of 15 Decr.1 was sent me Yesterday by the Marquiss whose Praises are celebrated in all the Letters from America. You must be content to receive a short Letter, because I have not Time now to write a long one.—I have lost many of your Letters, which are invaluable to me, and you have lost a vast Number of mine. Barns, Niles, and many other Vessells are lost.

I have received Intelligence2 much more agreable, than that of a removal to Holland, I mean that of being reduced to a private Citizen which gives me more Pleasure, than you can imagine. I shall therefore soon present before you, your own good Man.3 Happy—happy indeed shall I be, once more to see our Fireside.


I have written before to Mrs. Warren and shall write again now.4

Dr. J. is transcribing your scotch song,5 which is a charming one. Oh my leaping Heart.

I must not write a Word to you about Politicks, because you are a Woman.

What an offence have I committed?—a Woman!

I shall soon make it up. I think Women better than Men in General, and I know that you can keep a Secret as well as any Man whatever. But the World dont know this. Therefore if I were to write any Secrets to you and the letter should be caught, and hitched into a Newspaper, the World would say, I was not to be trusted with a Secret.

I never had so much Trouble in my Life, as here, yet I grow fat. The Climate and soil agree with me—so do the Cookery and even the Manners of the People, of those of them at least that I converse with, Churlish Republican, as some of you, on your side the Water call me. The English have got at me in their News Papers. They make fine Work of me—fanatic—Bigot—perfect Cypher—not one Word of the Language—aukward Figure—uncouth dress—no Address—No Character—cunning hard headed Attorney. But the falsest of it all is, that I am disgusted with the Parisians—Whereas I declare I admire the Parisians prodigiously. They are the happiest People in the World, I believe, and have the best Disposition to make others so.

If I had your Ladyship and our little folks here, and no Politicks to plague me and an hundred Thousand Livres a Year Rent, I should be the happiest Being on Earth—nay I believe I could make it do with twenty Thousand.

One word of Politicks—The English reproach the French with Gasconade, but I dont believe their whole History could produce so much of it as the English have practised this War.

The Commissioners Proclamation, with its sanction from the Ministry and Ratification by both Houses,6 I suppose is hereafter to be interpreted like Burgoines—Speaking Daggers, but using none. They cannot send any considerable Reinforcement, nor get an Ally in Europe—this I think you may depend upon. Their Artifice in throwing out such extravagant Threats, was so gross, that I presume it has not imposed on any. Yet a Nation that regarded its Character never could have threatned in that manner.


RC (Adams Papers).


Printed above from AA's draft, dated 13 Dec. 1778; RC is missing.


This “Intelligence” had reached JA on 12 Feb.; see entry of that date in his 171 Diary and Autobiography , 2:353–354, and see also JA to AA, 27 Nov. 1778, above, and note 4 there.


Perhaps used with the force of a single word, “Goodman,” q.v. in OED : “The master or male head of a household,” “A householder in relation to his wife.”


JA to Mercy Warren, 18 Dec. 1778 (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.; LbC, Adams Papers, printed in JA, Works , 9:474–476, under the wrong date of 15 Dec.) It does not appear that JA kept his pledge to write Mrs. Warren again in February.


See above, AA to JA, 27 Dec. 1778 1779 . JA clearly wrote “Dr. J.” in MS, but this must have been a slip for “Dr. F.,” i.e. Franklin, whose fondness for the “simple traditional airs of Scotland” is well known and has been pleasantly described and documented in Claude-Anne Lopez, MonCher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris, New Haven, 1966, p. 22, 34–35, 68, 290.


On 3 Oct. 1778 the Carlisle conciliatory commission issued at New York a Manifesto and Proclamation addressed to Congress, the state assemblies, and Americans at large, threatening sanguinary consequences if they continued in revolt against Great Britain and in alliance with France. For the text of the Manifesto (Evans 15832) and the debates in Parliament over its substance, considered by the whig opposition as exceeding the commission's instructions, see Parliamentary Hist. , 19:1388–1402; 20:1–46.

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 February 1779 JQA AA John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 February 1779 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abigail
John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams
Hond. Mamma Passy February 16 1779

I have now the pleasure to acquaint you some news which will be agreable to you. Yesterday morning an extroadinary express from England has brought this news that on Friday 12 inst. the Populace of London put fire to the hotels of North, Sandwich, Germaine, and Paliseer which was consumed and that at the Moment of the depart of the Letter it went so well that they did not know where it would end, and all for joye of the justification of Keppel &c. &c.1

Yours &c., J. Q. Adams

NB Excuse my writing. I being in a hurry just let you know this news.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. John Adams at Mr. Adams's Braintree near Boston in America.”


For the demonstrations in London, 11–12 Feb., against the ministry and against Sir Hugh Palliser and the Admiralty when news of Admiral Keppel's acquittal was received from Portsmouth, see Ann. Register for 1779 , p. 198–199, where it is pointed out that “Some of the mob seemed not to be of the lower class.” See also JA to AA, 27 Dec. 1778, above.

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 16 February 1779 Lovell, James AA James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 16 February 1779 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
Philada Feby. 16: 1779

Though I have this day for the first time received a Letter from your husband, yet I feel chagrined at not having had one inclosed for you. 172I had promised myself the pleasure of being instrumental to your happiness in that way, frequently. He dates from Passy Decr. 6th.1 and acknowledges the Receipt of an official Letter from Me of Octr. 122 but says not a syllable of having touched a single one of all my private Addresses to him. He is not lengthy. Some parts are confidential and not interesting to you as his Wife. Other Parts, tho confidential also, are not indifferent in a domestic view. On the footing therefore of a past promise I copy them. “Mr. D. and others have written in a manner which makes it expected that one will be left alone here. But what is to be done with the other two is left to conjecture. If I am recalled, I shall have nothing to do but get home if I can. If I am appointed to another Court I shall be in some perplexity; because I see no probability of being received at present. However, I can digest nothing till I have the premises.”—“The King's Speech I have already sent to Congress by several Opportunities. You will see he dreads the great armament of other powers, in the plural. He must mean Holland and Spain. You will see also that the Opposition is more strong than it ever was before, in both Houses. I will omit no opportunity of sending the other papers with the debates as they come, and I pray they may go safe. But immense Numbers of our Dispatches are sunk in the Sea. I beg of you to write as often as possible to John Adams.”

None of the Papers he mentions have come to hand. The Perplexity he apprehends will I know for certain lessen every hour. You will hear much talk of great Secrets which Congress keep to themselves. It is true that some Circumstances respecting Alliances are and ought to be concealed but the News papers will give you the main Parts of what we know in Regard to Friendships for us and Disappointments for Gr. Britain.

But, I quit these Topics, and return to Mr. A——. His Namesake here wrote some time ago on the subject of a new destination for him3 and several of my Letters are on their passage tending in their contents to make him rest satisfied till he receives our final Adjustments of who and where.

With a terrible Head Ach but a sound and affectionate Heart I bid you Good Night. JL

RC (Adams Papers).


LbC, Adams Papers. Lovell's quotation below of about half of JA's letter is sufficiently accurate.


Lovell, for the Committee for Foreign Affairs, to the American Commissioners (PPAmP: Franklin Papers; printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:781).


“It is not yet determind how you will be disposed of; but as Congress entertain great Expectations from your Services, you may depend upon Employ-173ment being allotted for you somehow. The critical Situation of the Powers of Europe in general, makes it somewhat difficult for us to determine, to which of them to make our Addresses at present. . . . Holland, whose Policy is always to be at Peace, may be open for a Negociation; and in my Opinion, we ought to take the earliest Opportunity to tempt her” (Samuel Adams to JA, 25 Oct. 1778, Adams Papers).